Monday, 10 June 2019

May Part Two - Trains, Films and Bags.

I feel I should begin this post by clarifying that me taking a full week off for the first time in two years is absolutely down to me and not my work place, who actually have a very generous leave allowance!
Himself doesn't do holidays, so I tend to use up my leave with odd days here and there rather than a full week. I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely need to do it again.

Anyway To have a little lift once I was back at work we went to see Rocketman
which I thoroughly enjoyed, even thought for some reason I didn’t realise it was a musical, I just thought it was a biopic with music…oh well.
I must say Taron Egerton was amazing.
We also saw The Secret Life of Pets 2 because I loved the first one but this wasn’t really worth it,
I mean it was fine, but not worth a trip to the cinema to see.

We also finally got round to watching The Dirt, a Netflicks film about the band Motley Crue based on their biography.
Frankly it was dreadful. Not one to recommend at all and I shan’t bother reading the book if this was anything to go by.
Funnily enough I was chatting to Nephew Number One about it and he too agreed it was not very good at all but that the book was.
 He then said that he did think the film was a true portrayal of things like going to a gig “back in those days”  Cheeky bugger.

Of course the final excitement of May was getting together with the lovely Mim for a long overdue catch up. I knew she likes trains which was why I suggested the Didcot Railway Centre and I have to say it didn’t disappoint. 
I thoroughly enjoyed having a good look round even if I did discover that I seem to have some strange kind of magnetic attraction or power over train enthusiasts!?! It really was very bizarre and has never happened to me before! 
 Himself said it comes from being a woman of a certain age so of course I hit him. 

One old chap seemed determined to walk us round the place, I honestly didn’t think he was going to leave us alone, it was all a bit awkward really,  especially so as I spotted him when we went for a cup of tea yet he just cut us dead then.

I found the railway map from pre-Beechings cuts absolutely mindblowing from the sheer number of stations on the map. It was also incredible to see and have a go on the huge panel that moves trains around the system and wonder over the fact it was only decommissioned in 2014. 

Also getting your head around the fact that back in the day it took 9 hours to travel to Bristol in a carriage completely open to the elements with just wooden benches and that apparently they actually employed people to remove the dead bodies after long train  journeys!
This is the First Class carriage, it has a roof and seat backs apparently the height of luxury.

I know they do a lot of filming there (I can share several stories, including one about Russian Cossacks) and tend to be fairly blase as I've seen so much over the years in Oxford, but I did fan girl a bit when I recognised bits I saw in an episode from the recent series of `Endeavour (of which I am a huge fan.)
Shaun Evans was here...

We finished up drinking cider in the pub opposite the station and Himself came down to say hello.

If you are thinking of visiting this amazing railway centre it’s worth checking their website because they do have different events on throughout the year and the entrance price varies accordingly. 
For example there was a vintage transport event there this weekend. 

I feel it's only fair to add that if you are planning a visit sadly Didcot town itself doesn’t have a lot else to offer you…

I shall end with my May purchases which are somewhat epic in the bag department.

I got these two Corde bags from the same seller. They were a little more than I usually pay but I really wanted another blue one and I just loved these two designs.
This is my first crochet style Corde bag and it's rather lovely. I still have a 'one that got away' when it comes to these, I dithered over buying it for too long and lost.
This navy bag was a bargain and I have just ordered some Woly leather cream to feed and restore it.
This is a funky 60's washbag which I will use as a handbag, again it was an absolute bargain which was why I bought it.
Finally who could resist this glorious disco in a bag? Not me!

I have just one dress purchase. I have been giving a lot more thought to my purchasing habits in recent months and have been a lot more careful. 
This was reduced and I just loved the print. Perfect for our holiday at the end of the month. Yes you read that right, after what I said at the start of the post we are actually going on holiday at the end of the month! 
We are off to Cornwall for a long weekend.   

Thursday, 6 June 2019

May Part One - Plants, Cake and Mary Quant.

May has been a super busy fun packed month. It’s super busy as there are 6 family birthdays one of which is Himself’s. 
We both had the day off so I was gently badgering him to do something I finally got “let’s go somewhere on the train” and as it got closer and closer I resorted to emailing the map of the Great Western network and saying please choose somewhere! 
Rather surprisingly he chose Bath because he hadn’t been there for about 9 years. So after a lazy breakfast and presents we jumped on the train with no plan other than to mooch about, which was exactly what we did. 
We ambled at will, tried to follow a painted Easter egg trail that was still meant to be on, but gave up as most of the eggs had been removed and browsed any shop that took our fancy.
 I bought Himself a shirt and myself an lovely elephant (as you do).
 In the indoor market I browsed the haberdashery stall and finally found the right thin elastic I had been after to mend a vintage bag whilst Himself looked at books and then left him with his phone whilst I visited the brooch lady there. After much deliberation I came away with these two.

We tried to find the really nice pub Himself had sat in the last time we were in Bath when I had left him to his own devices whilst I did a fashion exhibition and a vintage fair. We eventually found the place it had been but it was now a restaurant, so we ended up in the Saracen’s Head ‘The oldest pub in Bath  - here since 1713’ according to the sign, after we had both used the less than savoury facilities Himself says he was tempted to add ‘toilets last cleaned 1817!’

This was also the technically the first day of a week off work for me. My first full week off in two years so quite a big thing according to my colleagues!
 I hadn’t made any plans as such just pottering about and a day out with my Mum. I have loads of jobs to do around the house which I never seem to get around too and as it goes I didn’t tick too many off the list this time round which kind of annoyed me, but on the other hand I was also making sure I had some me time. It was bliss to go back to sleep after Himself’s alarm for another hour or so, then get up make a mug of tea, bring it back to bed and settle down with a good book.
My day out with my Mum was to a garden centre, where else?? I’d spent the whole day before gardening so was ready to fill some gaps but on the whole it was a bit disappointing, everything was very expensive. We did have a lovely lunch though and I randomly bought myself a tinman in one of their concession places who frankly is far too nice to go out in the garden and go rusty so he is living in the house!
 We then drove back via a Homebase because Mum was looking for a specific lightbulb, it turned out it was closing down so ended up bagging a load of bargain plants there instead which was a great result.
I also nipped into town to do some chores and browse the chazzas that as it goes had bog all. All I bought was a cushion for a pound. Bah.
 I did buy some more reduced bedding plants, this time at Wilkinsons so spent a happy afternoon getting them planted and tidying up all my pots (renting means my precious plants move round with me in pots.)

I did end up having a day out in London mid-week with my friend Charlotte from work. There is currently a Mary Quant exhibition on at the V&A which I was thinking of seeing at some point. Charlotte asked me if I was planning to go and if so did I have anyone to go with as she really wanted to see it. As we both had time off we booked tickets for the Wednesday and met up on the train into Paddington.

 It was a gorgeous day so we decided to walk to South Kensington via Hyde Park. To be honest I just trot along after Charlotte who grew up in London and knows where to go, I joke that she could just sprint off and leave me but I am very grateful that she doesn’t. We had an early lunch sitting outside the restaurant in the sun and agreed we would both be so up for retiring and being able to do this all the time.  

The exhibition was fantastic. I highly recommend a visit. Widely acknowledged as a leading figure in the 1960s Mod and youth revolution this exhibition charted her rise with dresses from the late 50’s through to the 70’s where she started to move towards household goods rather than clothing. Frankly I can understand why, at her height she was producing 4 collections a year of up to 60 dresses a time!!

Charlotte’s Mum had worn a lot of Quant dresses so it was very nostalgic for her. I was also on the lookout for my friend Liz who got married in a black and white Mary Quant mini dress complete with the famous daisy print on the bodice but sadly they didn’t have an example of that dress for me to take a picture of for herthis was as close as I got.
Charlotte and I were both exclaiming by the time we got to the 1970’s makeup. Remembering the distinctive pacakging and adverts in things like Jackie magazine.
Personally I loved the fact that Quant gave thought and was involved in every aspect of her shops right from the d├ęcor to the designs on the carrier bags making every detail matter. I loved that she also used up and coming young artists, well as her own designs.

There was one bag used specifically when a customer bought knee high boots that I instantly recognised! I have a clear memory of it in the bottom of my mother’s wardrobe with bits and pieces stored in it and asked her about it when I saw her next. She can’t remember it as such, but said if it was a pretty colourful design it was highly likely she would have kept it to use again.
This is it, I now wonder if it was that bag that sparked my ‘thing’ for paper bags lol.

These two were my favourites I think.

The exhibition runs until next February so if you get the chance to go, do!

My week off ended with afternoon tea at this amazing place off the canal towpath near Kirtlington (Oxfordshire) called Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden. They are only open for one weekend each month so you absolutely have to book if you are wanting the afternoon tea and usually well in advance too. It’s a little hard to find (the postcode in your sat nav will take you to a cul-de-sac of houses who must get so sick of bewildered tea goers!) but if you carry on past them down a track there are places to park up and then a short walk brings you to the right place, you can also reach it from walking the towpath.
 The food was delicious and the surroundings so quirky and quintessentially British it was quite magical.  As a complete cheese monster I absolutely loved the fact the top tier of the cake stand was all about the cheese and biscuits and local cheeses at that.
 You can also just go for tea and cake and judging by the amazing looking selection on show this would be a must for some time in the future too. We had a little amble along the canal to try and burn off a few calories before heading back to the car. I cadged a lift with my friend Liz (she of the Mary Quant wedding dress) who is also a very keen gardener like me. As her daughter lives in this part of Oxfordshire she comes over a lot and a while back had discovered this amazing little family run plant nursery so OF COURSE we called in on the way home and yes I bought yet more plants! I could hardly not as the selection was fabulous and the prices very good. 
 Set up in the back garden of a frankly bloody gorgeous house it seems to go on forever with lots of little corners and paths leading to yet more gems. There is a little gazebo with free tea and coffee and a honesty bar for cake (not that we needed any) and bird feeders hanging up to encourage feathered friends.
I got busy planting once I got back home filling up the spaces I had made sorting out my pots and tubs.

More to follow...

Monday, 29 April 2019

A Bit of a Catch Up.

Well I thought it was about time I blogged again! I honestly planned to blog in March and here we are a day away from May *sigh*

I am so grateful I have had lots of  fun things to do because things at work things are a bit crap. To cut a very long story short, my colleagues and I have been doing a lot of extra work prior to being regraded, and instead we have just found out we will actually have to reapply and be interviewed for our own jobs, and of course there is no guarantee we will actually get the job because they have to be advertised!
As you can imagine morale is at rock bottom and I certainly feel like a prize prat with 'Mug' tattooed right across my forehead for having done all this extra work.

Anyway enough of that and talking of rock and April I went to see not one but two musicals with Rock in the title that month.

First up was the anniversary tour of Rock of Ages with my besties Soo and Jenny.
Soo and I had seen it before when the show toured the UK in 2014 and both remember absolutely loving it. Sadly this production was frankly one big old mess, to the point where we were more than happy to leave a bit early so Jenny could catch her bus home. Having said that all the singers were amazing including the two Kevins.
 Kevin Clifton (from Strictly) and Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts from Corrie!)

The next week Himself and I were back to The New Theatre to see The Rocky Horror Show.
As you know we go every time it tours and thankfully the production more than made up for the week before. Indeed it's one of the best ones we have seen. I didn't dress up this year I just went in clashing leopard and tiger print!

I've also been to the cinema, first to see Captain Marvel which was great
 and then this weekend to see End Game the final Avengers film
which I also thoroughly enjoyed despite the bloke behind who talked very loudly and at one point even took a phone call!?! Luckily he decided to leave before he got lynched.

Wasn't Easter glorious? My line manager suggested I use up some of my plus time and take an extra day off  on the Thursday and as you can imagine I didn't need much persuading. I spent a blissful day gardening followed by my usual pilates class in the evening (more of that later.)

On Good Friday Soo and I had decided to take a trip to Kew Gardens.
She was amazed to find I had never been and bought me tickets for my birthday last year. I read Spring is meant to be the best time of year to go hence us picking Good Friday, the weather meant it was certainly a good choice.
I had been warned it would be super busy and weirdly bits of it were but other bits weren't at all,  I  guess it helps that Kew is vast, I genuinely hadn't realised it was so big. We were there for five and a half hours and felt we had done it justice because we barely paused, so I can understand why at a slower pace it might take a couple of days.

We traveled by train direct from Reading to Richmond which took an hour and also meant we didn't have to cross London. From Richmond station it's a 15 minute walk to the Lion gate at Kew.

First stop was the Marianne North Gallery. I have been wanting to see it for years, literally years. Basically ever since I bought a book about her in a sale when I was a penniless art student and it certainly did not disappoint.
No photos were allowed but please do google her to see her stunning paintings, she really was an incredible woman. She just took herself off on her own around the world painting after her beloved father died, in an era where women just didn't do such things.

We mooched for a bit with a vague direction in mind, here's the restored Temperance House, stopping wherever took our fancy.
 Soo wanted to do the treetop walkway and I was happy to try it as well. Once I was up there though  it was a different story!
I have to say I surprised myself as I never get travel or motion sick as a rule, but  because it was very busy the whole walkway was just constantly swaying. I was fine when I was moving but as soon as I stopped to take a picture I just could not get used to the motion and it made me feel really, really sick. So I grabbed a couple of pictures then galloped round and back down.
We bought a picnic in Richmond so stopped for lunch on a bench by  a lake before heading off to find the bluebells. We thought we had found them and I will admit I thought they were a bit sparse but further on we just found more and more and oh they smelt absolutely divine.
I got on my knees to take the second picture and suddenly realised when it came to get up again, that a full day of gardening followed by pilates had not been such a good idea after all!

We ambled back towards the gate we came in at
past the pagoda and the beautiful Japanese garden,
and also past this amazing elephant. Oh how I would love to have one in my garden.

All in all a wonderful day out and now I know Richmond is so easy to get to I will definitely go again.

On the Saturday Himself and I went out for a walk and just like the fabled Mad Dogs & Englishmen it was in the midday sun. As it was the first walk of the year we did a gentle six and a half miles and called in at a pub for a restorative or two.

On Easter Sunday my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin came up from Ipswich to see Dad so we popped by the care home to catch up with them and then on Easter Monday we headed back with snacks and the latest Fantastic Beasts films to watch with Dad.
My Mum arrived with a full picnic complete with prosecco, then my brother and his wife arrived with scones, jam and cream so no one needed any dinner that's for sure!

I have a week off work in May with no real plans other than maybe a trip to the V&A for the Mary Quant exhibition and a bit of sorting out/de-cluttering (we shall see how that goes...)

I'll leave you with my latest purchases, all bags, no frocks.
This was described on ebay as a 'huge silver bag' , it's not huge but it is bigger than most silver evening bags so I'm happy.
I was thrilled to snag this Corde for the collection. It was a great price and is such a pretty design.
This fab 60's wash/make-up bag is in perfect condition and will be used by me as a handbag.

Finally this lovely Gerbra. I adore them and have several, they usually have one or two flowers at a time like the orange one here, but I had this cream & red one in a shady spot so it had never flowered before. I moved it into the light and it's gone slightly mad, just like it's owner.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Good Grief Charlie Brown and a Handbag or Two.

Well my February blog post didn't happen because for three of the four weeks we had no computer at home. We knew it was on the way out and Himself had purchased a new hard drive but didn't quite get around to replacing it and then the old one actually died. It then took a long and frustrating time to try and keep coaxing it into life for long enough to retrieve photos and emails etc. Himself has been randomly tinkering as the mood takes him and in the meantime I've either brought my work laptop home or done without.
Anyway after I grouched about wanting to blog Himself finally sorted out the picture editing so here I am.

The highlight of February was going to London to see the Peanuts exhibition at Somerset House. As ever I left it until pretty much the end of the exhibition before getting there. I've known about it since October last year I'm a huge Snoopy fan after all, but I could not convince Himself to go with me. He most definitely is NOT a Snoopy fan.

Soo then spotted the exhibition and emailed me a link and when I explained I had no one to go with she was more than happy to come. We chose the date, we bought the tickets, and then 5 inches of snow descended and made the roads impassable so that was that. Bah.

I think it finally dawned on Himself just how much I wanted to go so he agreed and we set off the following Saturday. The tickets were timed entry and I over estimated how much time it would take to get there so we ended taking a blissful if windswept stroll along the embankment in the sunshine.
The exhibition was about the enduring appeal of Peanuts and how Schultz's work has influenced modern artists. It also looked at the themes in his work, a lot of people don't realise he fought things like racism & sexism and raised awareness for many other causes via the comic strip.  There was plenty of Schultz's original artwork and some personal objects from his life, we were also taken through the creative process via the equipment he used and a fabulous little film where Schultz described how he came up with the each character and their quirks as he sits drawing them.

As you can imagine I bloody loved it. To see artwork he had drawn and the very pens he used to draw them.
Also to see some of the old merchandise brought back memories. I still have my banner that says 'One of us always stays awake in case of vampires'!
I have to say not all of the modern art works were my cup pf tea, but it was interesting to see the influences. As it happens Himself really enjoyed it too. Being a graphic designer he was fascinated by the creation process and the tools used to create.
He did tell me he was admiring one cartoon for it's artwork and everyone else around him was chortling away so he looked and looked but still couldn't see why it was funny!
One super excited Miss Magpie with her childhood looky likey Sally, yes when I was little my hair really did look uncannily like hers!!

From here we ambled through Covent Garden, ate lunch and ended up at Piccadilly. We were going to go for a cheeky drink at Waxy O'Connors but it had the rugby on so loud it made your ears bleed so we quickly backed out again. We were debating where else to go when I was distracted by drumming so we went to see what was going on.
This is the third time we have stumbled by chance onto the Chinese New Year celebrations in China Town. An unexpected fun way to end the day.

Yesterday there was a vintage fair in Oxford, the first one in many, many months for some reason. My friend Alex asked me to go so I headed into town to meet her and her best friend.

It was a Lou Lou's fair at the town hall again and pretty busy. A fairly good mix of stalls and several were more reasonably priced this time I thought, about time. Having said that there were still a couple of stalls that were crazy expensive, I swear they think because Oxford is the second most expensive place to live in the UK everyone here is loaded!

Anyway we browsed thoroughly and all bought something before stopping for a welcome cup of tea and a slice of delicious cake.
I was fairly dressed down yesterday so when I asked for the price of one handbag I got a slightly patronising explanation of what it was and how old it was.
I do find this happens a lot if I am trundling about in jeans rather than vintage from head to toe. Does this ever happen to you?
I find it quite annoying if someone is really condescending. I also wonder if you get quoted a higher price because the seller thinks you don't really know what you are looking at. In this case it was a Corde bag, nice shape and slightly rarer colour, but in poor condition so definitely not worth the £45 she offered it to me for. As you can imagine I left it where it was.

I bought two dresses, apologies for the dodgy pics they have already been washed and are hanging up to dry!
 The brown one was £12 and the checked one £9.50 
A green shirt.
Two brooches
Finally two bags. The white leather one still had some little bits of confetti in it so it has clearly been a wedding bag at one point. Since this picture I've cleaned it and polished it then put the confetti carefully back in one of the pockets.
The brown one was stupid cheap because it was pretty grubby and had one of those grim crumbling foam linings in it. I ended up taking ages first cleaning the outside and then carefully cutting open the lining seam to clear it out thoroughly. 

I have bought other handbags recently too so I shall end with those.
Just like Ann I've been on the hunt for a yellow bag for ages and just like that I found two. One of them I won't get to see for ages as one of my good friends in the U.S purchased on my behalf. It was from an American seller and was super cheap, just £7 but the postage to the U.K was down as nearly £50!
 I asked my friend how much it would be for the postage to her house and it was about £10 so she very kindly agreed to buy it on my behalf and I sent her the money.
Isn't it fab? Now I just have to wait for work to send me to New York again! 
The other bag is a raffia one. Oh and in the background is the little gift I bought myself at the Snoopy exhibition because all the other merch was stupidly expensive, £40 for a paper thin t-shirt? No thank you. I always wanted a Belle (Snoopy's sister) when I was young but never got one, so I treated myself to one now.
Finally a little purple suede one, again I've wanted a purple bag for a while. It's a little faded in places but not too bad. 

I have lots of fun stuff on in March so more anon.